5 great things to do in Durban
How to spend a fun weekend in Durban with our curated list of 5 great things to do, where to eat, drink and sleep.
The city of Durban sits on the coast of the Kwa-Zulu Natal province, flanked by the warm water of the Indian Ocean and two-hour drive away from the peaks of the Drakensberg. It’s a bigger city than it looks, with almost three million people who live across the various different suburbs, from the new and shiny Umhlanga, to the residential areas of Morningside with its beautiful big houses in English style. It also boasts an important harbour, one of the largest and busiest shipping terminals on the African continent.
Read on to find out 5 great things to do in Durban and our recommendation on accommodation and restaurants!
A surfboard is a right, not a necessity!
5 Great Things To Do In Durban
Surfing is the main activity and kids born here learn to surf pretty much when they start walking. The best spots are either Umhlanga Beach (Bronze) or Durban beach, which has a wider selection of waves with smaller and more learnable waves the closer you get to the harbour (we recommend you go to Durban beach if you are still learning).
Sunday wandering at the Wonder Market , a small market full of homemade food, crafts, vintage and generally wonderful things. You can find it on the first Sunday of the month at Chris Saunders Park in Umhlanga. If you are really lucky you will pick the Sunday when the jazz band plays, making the afternoon such a pleasure for all the senses.
Visit the Durban City Hall, built in the early 1900s in neo-Baroque style, now a house of the municipality, a public library and the Durban Art Gallery. On the opposite side of the road you can find the Playhouse theatre, one the most famous venues is South Africa. It’s peculiarity is the roof of the hall which is adorned with tiny stars, so once the lights go off and the show begins, it feels like you are watching it outside under the stars.
Spend an afternoon walking around the Botanical Gardens . In the heart of the city, these gardens are home to an incredible number of trees and flowers. From local to exotic ones, from tall trees to small bushes. There is even a sensory area where you can smell, touch and learn about different plants and herbs. A great family destination but also a cool spot to hang out if you want to relax.
From mid-May to mid- September, you will be able to admire humpback and smaller numbers of southern right whales migrate along the coastline of KwaZulu-Natal. We reccomend Advantage Tours as they are accredited.
Where to eat in Durban
Lunch in the village
Umhlanga village is packed with many new restaurants and cafes. Most have outside tables, making it the perfect place where to enjoy a sunny lunch. You’ll find a very wide selection, ranging in prices and cuisines. Our favourite spots at the moment are Vovotelo , a lovely cafe with small bites, vegetarian options and delicious homemade bread and Catch , for fresh fish and sushi.
Dinner at Market
A lovely upmarket restaurant situated in a quiet courtyard behind a classic 1930’s colonial building at the foot of Durban’s Berea. The atmosphere is sophisticated yet welcoming and the menu is based on locally sourced organic ingredients, changing based on the season.
Insider tip - The Oyster Box Hotel
Without a doubt our favourite place in Durban, the Oyster Box will blow your mind! A boutique hotel with colonial style interiors, marble floors and a whirling palace staircase. Its restaurant opens up to a pool overlooking the indian ocean with a white and red lighthouse in front. The rooms overlooking the ocean are washed by the morning sunlight and filled with all comforts. If you decide not to sleep here you can always visit for dinner at the restaurant or just for drinks on the rooftop bar, in both cases the quality and the service will be top notch.
Where to have a drink in Durban
End your evening with drinks and jazz at The Chairman, the best jazz bar in town, where summer evenings pass by to the sound of live jazz music while sitting on a couch looking at the stars. The bar is composed by an inside and an outside area, with many leather couches and Indian rugs, illuminated by a dim light that creates a cozy and sophisticated atmosphere. During the course of the night one or more jazz bands play while you sip cocktails and get lost in the rhythm of the music.
Where to sleep in Durban
The best and easiest place to sleep in Durban to experience the holiday feeling is Umhlanga. A little (although expanding wildly) beach village packed with restaurants, cafes, beach spots, always viby. A couple of hotels that we would recommend are (from most to least expensive) : The Oyster Box , The Beverly Hills and Breakers. You can always look for a Airbnb, just make sure it’s close to the Lighthouse Mall, better known as ‘the village’.